Feuerzangenbowle is a traditional German alcoholic drink for which a rum-soaked sugarloaf is set on fire and drips into mulled wine. It is often part of a Christmas or New Year’s Eve tradition. The name translates literally to “fire-tongs punch”. Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) is quite popular during the winter months in Germany. But if you are looking to kick things up a notch, you may find this drink a lot more interesting.
The popularity of the drink was boosted in Germany by the 1944 film comedy Die Feuerzangenbowle. It is a traditional drink of some German fraternities, who also call it Krambambuli, as the red color is reminiscent of a cherry liqueur of that name which was manufactured by the distillery Der Lachs zu Danzig.
SAFETY: be very careful, you are going to be dealing with alcohol and fire. Take the necessary precautions!
Feuerzangenbowle is prepared in a bowl, similar to a fondue set, which is usually suspended over a small burner. The bowl is filled with heated dry red wine spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger and orange peel, similar to mulled wine. The Feuerzange was originally a pair of tongs, but nowadays it is common for a purpose-designed metal grate mounted on top of the bowl to hold the Zuckerhut (“sugarloaf”, or literally “sugar hat”), a sugar cone of 250 g. The sugar is soaked with rum and set alight, melting and caramelizing. The rum should have at least 54% alcohol per volume and be at room temperature in order to burn properly. More rum is poured with a ladle until all the sugar has melted and mixed with the wine. The resulting punch is served in mugs while the burner keeps the bowl warm. For some the ceremony is more important than the drink itself, celebrating the gathering of friends and conveying a notion of Gemütlichkeit (“cozy atmosphere”).
8 1⁄2 cups dry red wine (2 liters)
1 stick cinnamon
1 dash ginger, grounded
1⁄2 lb sugar loaf
2 cups brown rum (at least 54% alcohol)
- Wash oranges and lemons thoroughly, pat dry and cut into slices or wedges.
- In a large pot combine red wine, oranges and lemons, cinnamon, cloves and ginger. Heat slowly making sure it does not come to a boil. Remove pot from heat and place on a heat source (such as from a Fondue set).
- Place sugar cone into metal holder (“Feuerzange”). A metal rack or mesh strainer will do, as long as it doesn’t sink into the wine – don’t use aluminum.
- Soak sugar cone with rum and carefully light it. The sugar will melt and drip into the wine.
- Little by little start adding more rum to the sugar cone using a long-handled ladle.
- Once the sugar cone and rum have completely burned off, gently stir the drink and serve in mugs or heatproof glasses.
Note: Extreme caution must be taken when handling alcohol and open flame, particularly with high alcohol content ingredients. Use long wooden matches or extended candle lighters to ignite the sugar, NOT SHORT MATCHES or cigarette lighters. Be very careful that nothing flammable like paper or cloth are around. We disclaim any responsibility if you burn yourself or property out of negligence.